Of Clinton and Trump’s battle

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

All eyes are on the United States at this moment. 

With the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, which was attended by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi just ending, the enthralling battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the U.S Presidency stopped millions around the globe on Tuesday. 

Estimated to have been watched by more than a hundred million people, the excitement of it certainly wasn’t lost on the remote shores of Samoa. 

For people who had access to pay TV, it was a big occasion, one for the ages. 

It was the first face-to-face showdown between two of the biggest newsmakers in recent times and it was everything we expected. 

Our verdict?

Trump was Trump. He came across as arrogant, a bully and his tendency to interrupt Clinton ever so frequently, making some silly remarks in the process simply confirmed his persona we’ve come to know.

For sure, the debate was not the defining moment for both candidates.

But after months on the campaign trail, the session gave us all an indication of just who might replace Barack Obama six weeks from now when all the votes are in and counted.

Opinions of course will differ as to who won round one. Trump supporters have already found plenty of positives from their man’s performance. The world wide web is full of conspiracy theories about what and who lied. It’s only going to become more interesting.

It must be said though that Hillary Clinton did extremely well. 

She appeared every bit the seasoned politician we know she is. She was more articulate, she was diplomatic and she was able to brush aside Trump’s usual personal attacks he’s become known for.

Since the debate on Tuesday, there have been literally hundreds of stories and analytical pieces written about the outcome. A large number of them gave round one to Clinton. It’s hard to disagree.

But then again, this battle is happening in the land of the free where you just never know what people are thinking.

Speaking of views, we find that the ones coming from the United States provide a particularly interesting take on the whole issue. Take a piece titled “Clinton and Trump clash early, often in first debate” by The Washington Post for instance.

It was an eye opener and if you haven’t been following the campaign war, it would certainly bring you up to speed quite quickly with the issues.

 “Where Clinton was measured in her attacks, Trump was a feisty and sometimes undisciplined aggressor. He regularly interrupted Clinton, as well as the moderator, “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, and raised his voice. At times, Trump delivered rambling, heated and defensive answers,” the piece reads.

“Despite evidence to the contrary, Trump vehemently denied he had supported the Iraq War at the outset, as Clinton had, while Clinton looked on incredulously. Trump sought to blame Clinton for the growth of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, snapping, “You were secretary of state when it was a little infant.”

“Clinton mocked Trump’s discussion of national security, suggesting he is uninformed and even unstable. “Whoo,” she said with a laugh, when Trump finished one oration about NATO and the Islamic State.

“Earlier, Trump grew visibly frustrated by Clinton’s critique of his economic plan and declared: “Typical politician. All talk. No action. Sounds good. Doesn’t work. Never gonna happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs, in terms of what’s going on.”

“Trump, whose pugilistic aggression made him a dominant force in the Republican primary debates, began the first general-election debate with an uncharacteristically respectful tone. He ditched his campaign trail nickname of “Crooked Hillary” to call his opponent “Secretary Clinton.”

“Is that OK?” he asked her. Clinton smiled. “Good,” Trump continued. “I want you to be very happy. It’s very important to me.”

But Trump’s demeanor quickly grew more aggressive, even bitter. He tried to portray Clinton as a relic of Washington and protector of the status quo. In one of his few dominant moments, he challenged Clinton on trade policy, saying the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade pacts have contributed to the hollowing-out of America’s middle class.

“Your husband signed NAFTA, which was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry,” Trump said to Clinton. “You go to New England, you go to Ohio, you go to Pennsylvania - you go anywhere you want Secretary Clinton and you will see devastation.”

Trump added: “You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Why are you just thinking about these solutions right now?”

Near the end of the debate, Trump repeated his claim that Clinton lacks what he sees as “the presidential look.” “She doesn’t have the look. ... She doesn’t have the stamina,” Trump said.

Clinton looked with a smile, laughing.

“As soon as he travels to 112 countries,” Clinton said, “he can talk to me about stamina.” That line drew loud applause in the hall.

Clinton continued. She said that Trump had tried to change the conversation from her “look” to whether she had stamina.

“This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs,” Clinton said. “One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. He called this woman ‘Miss Piggy,’ and then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she is Latina,” Clinton said. “She has a name, Donald.”

Clinton accused Trump of postponing the release of his tax returns - something every presidential nominee has done for decades - because he has something to hide. Trump has said he is keeping his returns private at the advice of his lawyers because he is under federal audit.

Clinton speculated that Trump was “hiding” his tax returns because they would show he is not as rich as he says he is, or is not as charitable as he claims, or has debts to major banks and foreign entities, or pays nothing in taxes at all.

Folks, this is only a glimpse of what transpired for more than an hour on live television. It was wonderful to watch; certainly refreshing when we consider the political garbage we’re so often fed on these shores.

Imagine having a similar debate in Samoa? 

As for Clinton and Trump, this was only the first of three debates sponsored by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates. We can hardly wait for the next ones.

Have a great Thursday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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